Despite being tied to a physical location in the Midtown Global Market, The Left Handed Cook has the attitude, philosophical bent, and street cred of a food truck. This newly opened restaurant’s approach to food is shoulder to shoulder with much of the high-minded, reasonably priced grub crawling through the street of the Twin Cities right now: Its short but imaginative menu teems with the likes of sweet corn meets sambal butter, braised short rib meets kimchi and furikake, charred asparagus meets sesame leaf and chili sauce with pork mayo.
Despite the highbrow / lowbrow ambition that pulses through its menu — truffle parmesan fries, collard greens dressed up with bacon dashi — the overall flavor of The Left Handed Cook is surprisingly comforting. The ingredients are good, the techniques are sound, and the result is a series of dishes that soothe, relax, and restore the diner.
A Beef Short Rib Bop Bowl ($8.75) came served in a traditional Chinese-American takeout container and fused ingredients including a poached egg, kimchi, a 48-hour braised short rib, and green onion into the gastronomic equivalent of a warm hug. The kimchi was lovely: not scorchingly hot but not apologetic, and funky without being unbalanced, a perfect lively foil for the rice and egg and tender meat that lull the senses into a happy coma.
A Hoisin BBQ Pork Sandwich ($7.75) arrived on a pretzel roll and presented a profile as mellow as a monk in the depths of contemplation. Not overly sweet, the crunch of the sandwich’s slaw was a nice complement to the pulled pork.
A roasted sweet corn with pasilla powder and sambal butter ($4) was less than the sum of its parts; it may just be the wrong time of year to serve sweet corn, as it tasted stingy and dull, its surprisingly underpowered exotic coatings unable to save its overall flavor.
On a happier note, bits of oranges were the secret weapon in a lovely preparation of Fried Brussels Sprouts ($4.50) that also included bacon, onions, and sadly retiring Grana Padano cheese. Another vegetable dish that we tried, Charred Asparagus ($6, above), came to life with the application of richly flavored caramelized onions that elevated the dish from comforting to opulent.
If there’s any criticism that can be leveled at this newly opened restaurant, it’s that it could turn up the heat. Bolder, brighter flavors and more aggressive attacks would — if presented in a balanced manner — bring the place up to the next level. But as it is, it’s a beautiful pause to the day and a worthy colleague of the ultra-promising Sonora Grill just down the way in the Market.
The Left Handed Cook
Asian Fusion in South Minneapolis
920 E Lake St, Suite 124
Minneapolis, MN 55407
CHEF / MANAGER: Thomas Kim / Kat Melgaard
RESERVATIONS / RECOMMENDED: No
VEGETARIAN / VEGAN: Yes (limited to sides and salads) / No
ENTREE RANGE: $7-$14